The previous edition’s runners-up, Nigeria’s Super Sand Eagles, had lost to their old rivals, Senegal, on the first day but had since picked up three points against Libya and are now through to the semifinals.
If they wanted to progress in the competition, a win today against a Tanzanian side who were already out having lost their first two games, was crucial.
Nigeria struck first, and it was their prolific number eight, Azeez Abu, who opened the scoring with a spinning volley. However, Boniface Pawassa’s Tanzanians were not to be ruled out yet, as they sent a rocket rattling against the post directly from the restart.
Nigeria pressed to extend their early advantage, but Kaseja was in inspired form between the Tanzanians posts, keeping out shot after shot in a barrage of attacks. In the dying seconds of the opening period, Tumbo won and converted a levelling freekick, and the teams went into the break all square.
The debutants were here to upset the African giants’ plans of repeating their 2007 and 2009 success, and they began the second period as they ended the first: on the attack! However, Pawassa’s men just couldn’t find the finishing touches and the score stayed at one apiece.
Until, that is, Nigeria seemed to find an extra gear and went ahead once more when Ohwoferia scored a delightful volley from a teammate’s chest down.
Already in the lead, Ujukwu was awarded a freekick and gave Kaseja no chance, despite the stellar performance the Tanzanian number one had put in. Jaruph pulled the score back to 3-2, side-footing the ball into an open net, and with most of the final period left, Tanzania were just one goal behind.
But when Taiwo drove a low shot into the net, the plucky Tanzanians had it all to do again, and this time the clock was against them. With just minutes left the Nigerians held off their opponents effectively, seeing the game out and claiming all three points and go top of Group B.
Tanzania are guaranteed a fourth-place finish, but as Senegal and Libya play tomorrow, Nigeria will have to wait and see what the final standings of Group B will be.
Goals: 1-0: Abu, min. 7 (1); 1-1: Tumbo, min. 0 (1); 2-1: Ohwoferia, min. 3 (2); 3-1: Ujukwu, min. 2 (2); 3-2: Jaruph, min. 10 (3); 4-2: Taiwo, min. 4 (3);
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